Ken Mandel, of Phillies.MLB.com, reports the Philadelphia Phillies have placed closer Brad Lidge (knee) on the 15-day disabled list. The move was made retroactive to March 21, and he will be eligible to return April 5, meaning he will miss at least the first five games of the regular season.
Fantasy owners who have drafted Lidge should not worry too much; this isn't considered a serious move. Lidge underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee February 25, and he needs a little more time to rehab before he is cleared for big league action. Lidge has already resumed throwing since the surgery; in his second minor league game Sunday, March 23, he allowed two hits and walked one batter. His fastball in that outing was reportedly estimated at around 90 to 92 mph, and Lidge would like to improve that figure to around 95 mph before he returns to major league games.
The closer until Lidge returns will most likely be right-hander Tom Gordon, who served as the team's full-time closer in 2006 while recording a 3.34 ERA and 34 saves. However, he pitched much more effectively in the first half of that season, saving 21 games with a 2.17 ERA before the All-Star break. Gordon seemingly wore down as that season progressed with a 5.32 ERA after the break. Gordon continues to pitch through a slight tear in his labrum that he suffered in late 2006. The tear caused him to miss part of the 2007 season, but he has reportedly been healthy this offseason. A fresher Gordon - even at 40 years old - could be a productive closer until Lidge returns.
Since this appears to be a minor setback, this should not drastically affect Lidge's long-term fantasy value. He should still be considered a mid-tier fantasy closer in 2008. However, Lidge owners should cover their bases; Lidge can be placed in a DL spot if possible, and Gordon should be picked up in the meantime if he's available. Those who haven't drafted yet could still target Lidge in the middle rounds if they already selected one or two reliable stoppers.
About Andrew Stewart
Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.
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